Article – The Oligopolization of the Video Game Industry

TL;DR – We explore the increasing Oligopolization of the Video Game Industry

The Oligopolization of the Video Game Industry

Overnight on the 22 of September (at time of writing) we were greeted to the news that Microsoft had purchased video game publisher ZeniMax. While the name ZeniMax might be unfamiliar to many, they own some of the most popular game development studios in the business. This includes Bethesda Softworks the home of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout and one of the original grand studios of the industry Id Software creators of Quake and Wolfenstein [1]. While the focus will likely be on the alleged $7.5 billion price tag for the publisher, this is also a chance to explore a troubling trend within global media and specifically the video games industry.

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Article – Films, an Exercise in Selling you Stuff.

TL;DR – While films are here to entertain, they also have an increased chance of selling you all sorts of things

CAT in Skyfall. Image Credit: MGM.

Article

Today one of the biggest films in recent memory Avengers: Endgame has launched and with it comes reviews, calls for no spoilers, marketing and PR, but also a similar trend we see with every major movie release recently and that is comments about product placement. This is something that is not new for the movie universe, indeed it was being lampooned all the way back in 1992 in Wayne’s World. However, it does feel like it is becoming more of an issue these days, or at the very least it is more in your face.

So why is this important? Well, for many reasons, the first being that companies are using films to pepper you with ads when your subconscious has lowered its usual defences that it uses to ignore advertisements. Sometimes these are very obvious like when on Chuck they would stop to explain the Subway sandwich they are having, or on Cougar Town when they would stop to explain the Subway sandwich they are having, or on Community when they … okay look Subway does this a lot. Fun fact, when writing this article I double checked I was right about the Subway integration and lo and behold before the YouTube videos of the shows was a new ad for Subway. While this is all a bit silly, it is also important because advertisers pay a lot of money to do it. PQ Media found a 14% increase in spending on product placement in 2017 alone.

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

TL;DR – A masterpiece in animation, in incorporating comics into film,and exploring all the emotions, a must watch.      

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene and the credits are a technicolour dream coat

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Image Credit: Sony/Marvel

Review


When I first heard that they were going to do a new Spider-Man animated film outside of the MCU I honestly didn’t have a lot of hope. It felt like a plan of a company that is trying to scramble while not doing anything new with a property that had stagnated for years. Then they announced that the story was from Phil Lord, and that piqued my interest, and then that first trailer dropped and I knew instantly that I was going to have to eat my words. Now that I have seen the movie proper I can honestly say that this is not only one of the best films of the year, but it might be the best superhero film I have seen in a while. This has been a bumper year for Spider-Man with Infinity War, the Spider-Man video game from Insomniac Games, but Into the Spider-Verse is the crown achievement and I have never been so glad to be wrong.

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Movie Review – Venom

TL;DR – There are moments when Venom comes together and is a really entertaining film. However, those moments are spread in-between a dull story with some bland action, and an anti-climactic ending.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene, and a post-credit trailer thingy (that you should totally stick around for)

Venom. Image Credit: Sony.

Review

I don’t think I have seen a film that gave such a bad first impression in quite a while. As a rule, I try to avoid trailers where possible, because of both the spoilers and also because they could taint my view of the film before I have even walked into the cinema. But even with that policy, it was hard to escape the “like a turd in the wind” quote, one of the worse lines of dialogue uttered in a blockbuster film in recent memory. Add to this the filmmakers are trying to build a universe around just Venom, after failing to do the same thing with Spider-Man. All of this was a recipe for disaster. However, walking out of the cinema I have to admit I might have been a bit too harsh on Venom … well, only just a little bit.

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Movie Review – Searching

TL;DR – A film that is both revolutionary filmmaking, but also deeply centred on the question of what would you do if you lost everything

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Searching. Image Credit: Sony

Review

Films can be revolutionary for a number of reasons, maybe they have a new actor that blows the world away, maybe they are looking at a subject that no one dared venture before, or maybe they revolutionise filmmaking in some way. With Searching, we have the later because this is a film that is shot entirely from the perspective of a computer screen. We see the YouTube video, the webcam, the documents as if we were living in the screen and peering out in the world. It is both disorientating but also oddly comfortable as it has all the tactile notions of the world we live in. With that in mind, today we are going to see if this is a film that is just a gimmick, or if it is using this new technique to tell a story.

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Movie Review – Ladies in Black

TL;DR – This is a film that is filled with joy from start to finish, a truly beautiful film   

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Ladies in Black. Image Credit: Sony

Review

There are times when you need to delve into the complex machinations of a political intrigue or see two superheroes brawl in the ruins of a fallen civilization or explosions in space as ships rocket past. However, there are times when you need to take a step back and just immerse yourself in the world of other people living extraordinary lives filled with glamour and beauty.

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Movie Review – The Equaliser 2

TL;DR – While not in any way revolutionary, it takes the familiar pieces and presents them in a really captivating way, anchored by a powerful performance by Denzel Washington.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Review

So I am going to begin this review with a confession, I have never seen the first Equaliser film, nor the TV series it is based off. Indeed I didn’t even know there was a TV series until I saw it in the credits. To add to this I was not even planning to go see The Equaliser 2 today so I didn’t have the presence to watch the first film before going in, so as I was going in I thought I should at least read through the synopsis. Just reading what happened made me truly wonder how I missed it? However, film history is full of sequels that don’t live up to the original, so let’s take a look at a world power does not protect you.

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Movie Review – Sicario: Day of the Soldado

TL;DR – When you have lost so many of the components that made up the first film it is going to have an effect, and the follow-up never quite reaches the heights of the first.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Sicario Day of the Soldado. Image Credit: Lionsgate/Sony

Review

The first Sicario (see review) was a film that was equal parts facilitating, beautiful, and deeply problematic. It followed a new recruit as they worked through the often murky situation that is the US/Mexico border where cartels smuggle drugs and people. It was a film that was the master at crafting tension, it weaponised sunsets, had some truly phenomenal acting. However, it also engaged in some deeply problematic events but tried to ignore the ramifications. So with that in mind, I was interested to see where they would go with a sequel when through tragedy and unavailability they have lost their director, cinematographer, composer, and one of the lead actors. Can it hold up with such a change, well no, but it still does have its moments.

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Movie Review – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

TL;DR – This film is an hour and a half of pure fun, and probably the first video game film to work in a very long time, and some of the best casting I have seen in a while

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle. Image Credit: Sony.

Review

So to be honest right from the start this was a bit of a surprise. It has not been a good year for remakes in 2017, for example, The Mummy (see review) or the Ghost in the Shell (see review) all fell a bit flat on release. Add to this, it has been over twenty years since the first film, and all the information in the lead up to its release did not display Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in a flattering light at all. Indeed, it felt like this was going to be another case of reheating an old franchise rather than trying to do something new, and we are getting a bit tired of this. However, none of this came to pass, instead what we got was a fun romp through the jungle, with superb casting, and sense of knowing exactly what it wanted to do and succeeding in it.

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: Homecoming

TL;DR – A brilliant relaunch of a much-loved character, which tells an origin story without telling an origin story

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. – There is a Mid and Post Credit scene.

Spider-Man Homecoming. Image Credit: Marvel/Disney/Sony.

Review

So here we are with our first big standalone Spider-Man feature now that he is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before we go on, we should probably take a moment and talk about how amazing it is that we actually got Homecoming at all. Indeed a lot had to fall into place to make this work. I’ve not seen companies work like this, and as well as this since, well maybe since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Props have to be given to both Sony and Marvel to being able to put aside their differences and making this work, because that would not have been an easy set of negotiations, but they have made the integration almost seamless. So let us begin as we swing into the world of high school proms, alien weapons, explosions, and award conversations about life changes when you become a teenager.

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